Judge Hugh Parish Beach, a lawyer of Piper City and editor and proprietor of the Pan Handle Advocate, was born in a log cabin in the then wilderness about thirty miles south of Cleveland, in Montville township, Medina county, Ohio, more than sixty-six years ago. On the paternal side he is descended from an old family of New Jersey. His grandfather, David Beach, served in the war of the Revolution, and his grandmother, Mary Tomkins was a near relative of Daniel D. Tomkins, who was prominent in the early history of this country and at one time was governor of New York, and afterward vice president of the United States, for eight years, with President James Monroe.
Moses Tomkins Beach, father of our subject, was born in Cayuga county, New York, in 1810, and was reared to agricultural pursuits in that state. He married Maria Wylie Gillett a native of Bergen, Genesee county, New York, but directly connected with the Gilletts, Tullers, Phelpses, Pages and other leading families of Hartford, Connecticut, and vicinity, in the early history of that state. Her mother's maiden name was Pattie Tuller, who married Grandfather Gillett at Hartford, Connecticut, before they moved to Genesee county. New York. With his young wife Moses Tomkins Beach moved to the Western Reserve of Ohio about 1830. Being a skillful woodsman, he cleared and improved several farms in that heavily wooded section but later in life engaged in the practice of medicine until his death. In politics he was a whig and afterward a republican, and was a strong opponent of slavery.
The mother of our subject died when he was fourteen years of age but to her teachings and the remembrance of her exemplary character he owes much. He was the fourth in a large family. He was early inured to hard labor on the farm but acquired a good education for that period, for the settlers in the Western Reserve always established good schools, no matter what else had to be sacrificed. When his mother died he left school and began to earn his own livelihood, with no resources but his intellect and a strong determination to succeed. 'He had read accounts of the struggles and successes of Benjamin Franklin and a desire was created thereby to become a printer. In the spring of 1857 the opportunity presented itself to gratify the ambition, and for the next two years he was constantly employed in that work, successively in two well appointed newspaper offices, in the course of which he passed through all grades of work, from "printer's devil," to assistant in the local news department. Like many others, he is indebted to this early newspaper work for much of his earlier general information in regard to public affairs. Succeeding this, a desire was aroused to become a lawyer and accordingly, for two following years he was found under the able tutelage of two of the leading lawyers of the state, Hon. Henry Grove and Hon. J. K. Cooper (both now deceased), pursuing the "labyrinthine intricacies" of the law, as embraced in Blackstone, Kent and other leading textbooks of that department of learning. At that time he was a member of a home company' of Zouaves, and when the country was startled by the firing upon Fort Sumter, the services of his company were immediately tendered to Governor Richard Yates, at Springfield. Not receiving any satisfaction from the governor, they sent one of their officers to Springfield to confer with him but, such was the patriotic rush to the defense of the country. Governor Yates replied to the effect that the applications ahead of the Zouaves were sufficient to fill the Illinois quota several times over. Nothing daunted, these determined patriots met in their armory and decided to tender their services direct to the general government and thereupon wired the then secretary of war, Hon. Simon Cameron, at Washington, D. C, to that effect. Imagine their disappointment when his reply came back: "Consult your governor!" This tended to abate the ardor of their patriotism, as there was no Immediate hope of their services being accepted. A good part of the company returned to their accustomed pursuits but others kept up the organization and, months afterward, with recruited ranks, went to St. Louis and joined the Eighth Missouri Infantry. Still engaged in the study of the law, it was not until the government called for three hundred thousand volunteers that our subject went into actual service. Then for more than four years and a half continuously, in both infantry and heavy artillery, he served successively in about all positions from private to that of commander of his company. He was for a time cleric in the Quartermaster's department at New Orleans, Louisiana; also clerk of a court martial in that city, and after being promoted to a commissioned officer was a member of a military commission by appointment of General Sheridan, commander of the Department of the Gulf. He campaigned through Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and across Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico. He participated in some of the most important military operations of the Mississippi valley, under Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Banks, McClernand, A. J. Smith, Canby, Hurlbut, Ord and others, and was present at the engagements at Haine's Bluff, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, Magnolia Hills, Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Raymond, Black River Bridge and the siege of Vicksburg. He went on the famous campaign of General Banks up Red river, then across Lake Pontchartrain, and on the march of General Gordon Granger through eastern Mississippi in the combined movement against Mobile, being then in command of his company, and in all engagements of that campaign. During the latter part of his service he was stationed successively at Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson, commanding the defenses of New Orleans, on the Gulf coast, at the mouth of the Mississippi. Through all his long and perilous service he received only two slight wounds, but he has now in his possession his army cartridge-box which undoubtedly saved his life, as it was perforated by a ball of the enemy in an engagement, while it was drawn in front of his body for convenience in loading his gun, as it was the practice in a fight.
While in the service and in command of his company, he raised a subscription in the company to the National Lincoln Monument at Springfield of seven hundred and fifteen dollars and thirty cents, and received a personal letter from Governor Oglesby in acknowledgment of its receipt, expressed in the most complimentary terms. The documents accompanying the subscription are now in the archives of the National Lincoln Monument Association.
Just about the close of his military career he was brevetted to a higher rank by the president of the United States "for faithful and meritorious services," as the parchment commission states. A singular incident is connected with this. The commission was forwarded at the proper time but to the wrong postoffice, and, not being called for, was returned to the war department at Washington. As the fact of being brevetted was unknown to the recipient of the honor, no call was made for the commission until many years after his return to civil life, when, accidently, a brother officer in the east, who knew about it, mentioned the fact in a letter. This gratifying news led to correspondence with the War Department, at Washington, and the highly prized document was forwarded by return mail, after slumbering in the official vaults of the government for about twenty-four years; however it was none the less gratefully received.
Another matter relating to his military service, which also has a most grateful side to it, is the fact that no complete settlement was ever had with the government of his accounts as an officer until the winter of 1892, when the government found itself indebted to the Judge several hundred dollars.
While in the military service, Judge Beach wedded Mary Estelle Smith, of Louisiana, a daughter of Captain Henry Lyon Smith, of the engineer corps of the regular army, and Mrs. Armalie H. Smith, nee Hebert. Captain Smith was a graduate of the West Point Military Academy and for a time professor at that school. Although himself a native of Maine, his military duties took him to Louisiana, where he married Armalie H. Hebert, a sister of his classmate at West Point, General Louis Hebert. The Heberts were a very prominent family under the old order of affairs before the war. Grandfather Vallery Hebert held a prominent position under General Jackson at the battle of New Orleans in 1851. Paul 0. Hebert was a governor of Louisiana, another representative was a speaker of the legislature, still another was a superintendent of one of their railways, while another, Mrs. Ernestine S. Stevens, widow of the late General Walter Stevens, another graduate of the West Point Military Academy, was first librarian of the patent office at Washington, D. C, and for many years was librarian of the department of agriculture. She is rightfully classed among the great women of the nation. She is Mrs. Beach's aunt.
The subject of our sketch received his discharge from the army February 22, 1867, and, with his young wife, immediately came north, locating at Piper City (then called New Brenton), where they arrived April 19th. His sister, Mrs. Mary A. Wilber, now deceased, then resided here. It was her advice that brought him here. She and her husband and family had come from Ohio a couple of years before, when there was no town and only a few scattered residents near groves of timber on the then broad expanse of virgin prairie. She was a well educated, talented and exemplary woman and an especially devoted wife and mother. As a school teacher before her marriage and a shrewd investor in real estate after her marriage, she was a marked success. She died all too soon, in 1869, leaving a large family of young children to mourn her untimely loss. Her remains were laid to rest in Brenton cemetery at Piper City. Her husband built the first hotel in the town — the Wilber House — in 1867.
At Piper City, Judge Beach resumed the study of law and in 1870 was admitted to the bar by the supreme court of the state, and has since practiced that profession. In the early history of Piper City he was elected president of the board of trustees and it was during his administration that many important streets were graded, the town park, now a beautiful grove, was planted, and a number of artesian fire wells sunk in different localities, which latter have since saved the place at least two very disastrous conflagrations. During said term the first fire engine was bought, which eventually led up to the present efficient fire department service of the village. In the spring of 1873 his fellow townsmen elected him a member of the county board of supervisors. In that body his advocacy of retrenchment, economy and reform in county affairs called public attention to him, and he was the same year nominated and elected county judge, and was reelected for two successive terms. He served until December, 1886, a year having been added by an amendment to the state constitution, and it is not too much to say that he had the good will and confidence of the people as a just, faithful and upright judge.
For the past quarter of a century he has been editor, publisher and proprietor of the Pan Handle Advocate. It is sufficient to say that as a journalist he has always endeavored to advocate that which was for the very best interests of the people among whom the paper circulates, and he is always able to state in clear and forcible language just what he means. His success in this department is highly deserved. He is an acknowledged forcible public speaker and has delivered many public addresses. In the presidential campaign of 1900 he was one of the campaign speakers in the state for the McKinley and Roosevelt Campaign Committee.
He is a Knight Templar in Masonry, is a patriarch in Odd Fellowship and has been in attendance upon the grand lodges of both bodies. He is a past post commander of Piper City Post, No. 361, Department of Illinois, Grand Army of the Republic, and while commander took the initiatory steps which resulted in organizing Gresham Camp, No. 187, Sons of Veterans, of which the Judge is an honorary member. Judge Beach cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln at Chicago in 1860, and has always been a believer in republican principles. He heard Lincoln and Douglas at Ottawa in the great joint discussion of 1858; has also listened to Lovejoy, Logan, Trumbull, Seward, Corwin, Hale, Ingersoll, Blaine, Oglesby, Harrison and a host of other leading orators of their day; has heard the greatest pulpit orator, Beecher; the greatest actor. Booth; and the greatest songstress, Patti. He was a member of the Pioneer Wide Awake Club of Chicago, in 1860, the captain of which was Orderly Sergeant J. R. Ilayden, of the famous Ellsworth Zouave cadets.
Judge Beach has not accumulated wealth, but his love of good literature has brought around him one of the finest private libraries to be found anywhere. The field covered is very wide. Besides his law library, there are works of history, biography, travel, philosophy, science, mathematics, rhetoric, poetry, art, music, also medical, theological, political, military, agricultural, horticultural, pomological, stock-raising and various other works, the accumulations of a half century. These, and current leading journals and magazines of the day, furnish an extensive field for intellectual thought and culture on all manner of interesting subjects.
Some years ago the judge found that his long and arduous military service, and too close confinement to sedentary pursuits since, had made inroads upon his health, to counteract which he has felt compelled to seek more active life in the open air than formerly, and in this connection he has what he calls his “gymnasium.” It consists in interesting himself in the raising of blooded roadster horses and Jersey cattle, and taking care of them himself. Also in engaging in horticultural and other open air pursuits.
Judge and Mrs. Beach have a family of five living children. Henry Lyon, born and educated here and also trained in journalism in the Advocate office, was employed on the Chicago Tribune for four years and on the Record for one year. For the past nine years he has been connected with the Union Traction Company, now the Chicago Railways Company, of which he is a superintendent. He was married in Chicago, in 1899, and has a little daughter, Muriel. Carrie Estelle, Ernestine Kellogg, Metta Armalie and Daisy May have all received instruction and training in various duties in the office of the Advocate. All the children obtained a high-school education. Lillian Mary, the second daughter, pronounced a very interesting child by all who knew her, died suddenly of membranous croup in the fourth year of her age.
In closing this outline of the biography of one of Ford county's best known citizens, let us say that Judge Beach is an unassuming, pleasant and companionable gentleman and stands among the first for integrity of purpose and general high character in the community where he has so long resided.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 445-450.

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